Summary: Serving one another comes down to "basin" theology.
A. The story is told of a minister who was organizing opportunities for people in his church to do small acts of kindness as a demonstration of Christ’s love in the community.
1. He phoned several neighborhood grocery stores and Laundromats and asked for permission to serve their customers.
2. As he talked with a grocery store employee, the person hesitated and said, “I’ll need to ask the manager, but first, let me make sure I understand what you want to do: You want to clean up the parking lot, retrieve shopping carts, hold umbrellas for customers, and you don’t want anything in return?”
3. “Yes, that’s right,” the minister replied.
4. After a long wait on hold, the employee returned to the phone and said, “I’m sorry, we can’t let you serve our customers, because if we let you do it, then we’d have to let everyone else do it.”
(Ann Jeffries, Kansas City, Kansas, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
B. How silly is that! How many people do you know who are beating down the door to serve others?
1. Why not let everyone else do it!
2. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone walked around looking for ways to serve others?
C. As we continue our series on the “One Another” passages of the New Testament, let’s keep in mind that we are trying to build real Christian community.
1. We want to be the church as it ought to be.
2. We want to love one another as God has commanded us to love one another just as He loves us.
3. So far in our series we have tried to learn something about being devoted to one another.
4. We’ve looked at what it means to honor one another, and submit to one another.
5. We’ve been challenged to practice accepting one another, and admonishing one another.
6. Last week we learned about how to encourage one another.
7. Today, hopefully, we can learn something about serving one another.
I. Called to be Free
A. The passage we want to focus on today comes from Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
1. Freedom emerges as a major theme in the letter to the Galatians.
2. No longer were they to “let themselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)
3. Formerly, they – along with the whole world – were “prisoners of sin.” (3:22)
4. The Law of God that had thundered from Sinai did not set them free from sin. Rather, it simply made them more aware of how captive they were to the flesh.
5. Throughout the years that followed, the law of Moses became God’s means of “leading us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (3:24)
6. It was Christ who fulfilled the requirement of the law and therefore set us free.
7. Therefore, Paul could declare: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (5:1)
B. But what does Paul mean by freedom? In what ways are we free?
1. Sometimes it helps to look at what it doesn’t mean, in order to understand what it does mean.
C. First of all, Paul makes it clear that freedom in Christ is not freedom to sin.
1. “You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge your sinful nature…” (5:13)
2. The New American Standard reads: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh…” (5:13)
3. The Galatians, like so many Christians today, had gone to two extremes.
a. On the one hand, some had reverted to trying to become righteous by keeping the law, and this only served to bring them back into bondage. (Gal. 5:2-4) That’s legalism.
b. On the other hand, some, having heard Paul’s teaching about freedom, felt that they were now able to do anything they wanted to do. That’s libertarianism.
c. Therefore, Paul wrote: “But do not use your freedom to indulge your sinful nature…”
4. Freedom in Christ is not freedom to sin, even though we are forgiven.
a. To have this attitude is to misuse, abuse and misunderstand the grace of God.
b. We are not free to use or abuse legal or illegal drugs.
c. We are not free to visit porn sites, “hook up” sexually with a friend, or have an affair.
d. We are not free to lose our temper, or cheat on our taxes.
e. We are not free to embrace a lifestyle that violates God’s plan and commands.
f. We are not free to call evil good or good evil.
5. The freedom we have in Christ is not freedom to do whatever we want.
6. We are not free to do something foolish just because it is legal. Just because something is permitted under the law doesn’t make it good or right.